From Vang Vieng we headed north (to set things right) to Luang Prabang. This beautiful city was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995 and I’ve got to say its one of my favourite cities in Asia, (by English standards having a population of only 50,000 makes it just a town but we’ll run with it!). If you liked Chiang Mai in Thailand then you’ll love this place.
The daily alms giving ceremony through the streets of Luang Prabang has become a major tourist ‘attraction’, I had mixed emotions after seeing and photographing it. Whilst its a serene sight seeing the Buddhist monks gliding through the city barefoot at dawn, its often spoilt by tourists getting too close and firing flashguns (why would you want on-camera flash!!) off in the monks faces. There is a good article here on appropriate etiquette if you ever find yourself there, I chose to use my longer lens and shoot from the other side of the street, (although frequently found people getting in the way!) The light was very flat so I opted to use a slow shutter speed / low ISO and pan the camera with the monks movement.
At sunset the natural place to go and shoot, without a particular spot in mind, seemed the (Mekong) river. I was hoping to find fishermen tending to nets and floating about gracefully through golden waters, and that is pretty much what I found..
The magical evening light was catching the net as he held it in the air, I saw him from a distance, and just had to hope he didn’t finish the job before i got there. This sunset shoot by the Mekong River was one of the very few shoots on this Asian trip that I predominately used the telephoto lens (Nikon 70-200mm 2.8), thats partly because I’m looking to try and shoot closer in to my subjects than before, sometimes the long lens can be the easier option in a place you’re unfamiliar with, compared with sticking a wideangle on and getting in close. And there was the practical reason that in this hot tropical climate I’ve haven’t always wanted to carry around a full backback of kit all day!
On this evening I had an idea of the shot before I got there, we had already scouted the banks of the river and it didn’t show much potential for foreground interest (unless trash is your thing) with the 70-200 I could skip that and get in close on the boatmen, hoping to capture their shapes and silhouettes as the sun descended below the horizon.
Nikon D800E, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 at F11, 125th at ISO100
The rich late afternoon light at Wat Xieng Thong was streaming into this temple and lighting the buddha statues. The rich black shadows worked well, this wasn’t a shot I’d try and bring detail back in post production on. Nikon D800E, 24-70mm, 1/800th, F3.5, ISO100
Unthinkable to shoot into the sunlight like this on slide film, The dynamic range of the D800 continues to amaze me! Wat Xieng Thong. Nikon D800E, 24-70mm, 1/200th at F8,ISO100
I found this chap outside the Wat Xieng Thong Monastery and he obliged when i asked if I could do a quick portrait. 24-70mm at 70, 1/200th at f3.2, ISO200
My travelling companion catching up on the latest Harry Potter novel..
Liked the sun coming through the trees, liked the scooters on the pavement, liked the tiled paving, it just needed someone to come along. So I sat on the pavement, and eventually she came running through. Thats what street photography is usually like – if you are prepared to wait long enough, something will happen.. Nikon D800E, 70-200mm at 190mm, 1/1250th at F4, ISO200
Twilight falls over the Mekong River, boats return home to their docks, tourists fill the restaurants along the riverside….(70-200 at 200mm, 1/1250th at F4, ISO200)
A quickly grabbed shot, i only had time to squeeze off two frames before this distant figure stepped back from the balcony..(70-200 at 200mm, 1/1250th at F4, ISO200 Settings left on camera from previous shot!) More to come from the final few days in laos soon, hope you enjoyed these shots of Luang Prabang, a town I can thoroughly recommend – 5 days wasn’t enough.